In the body, glycerol reacts with fatty acids to form triglycerides as a byproduct of digestion of fats. Triglycerides play a very important role in digestion and metabolism by acting as transporters of dietary fats. The levels should not exceed beyond a concentration of 200 mg/dL. Anything above this value is considered high and immediate steps need to be taken in that direction. Levels of triglycerides and alcohol are proportionate to each other, and it is important to limit alcohol intake in order to control the level of triglycerides.
The chemical formula of triglycerides is:
Where R, R', and R" stand for long alkyl chains. The three different fatty acids are RCOOH, R'COOH and R"COOH.
The digestive system converts calories, which are not immediately used, into triglycerides and then synthesizes them into fat cells to be stalked for later energy requirements. Whenever the body is in need of energy, hormones cause the release of stored triglycerides. Optimal levels of triglycerides are vital for proper functioning of the body. However, high concentration of stored triglycerides, a condition known as hypertriglyceridemia, can be a health risk that has been linked to various artery diseases and strokes. High triglycerides and consumption of alcohol can worsen the condition.
Levels of Triglycerides
In order to find where your triglycerides fall, a simple blood test is done. According to the National Cholesterol Education Program, here are the different levels.
- Normal - less than 150 mg/dL
- Borderline High - 150 - 199 mg/dL
- High - 200 - 499 mg/dL
- Very High - 500 mg/dL and above
* mg/dL = milligrams per deciliter
What's the Relation Between the Two
Alcohol has many effects and its heavy consumption can not only result in high triglycerides levels, but it also hampers fat metabolism by more than 30%. It has also been noted that those consuming alcohol also consume food rich in sodium and fat. This further causes hypertension and affects the normal levels.
Alcohol, i.e. ethanol, is nothing but fermented sugar. When the blood alcohol content surges, the liver gives priority to getting rid of alcohol from the blood, which is a very slow process. While doing alcohol detoxification of blood, the liver can process only one ounce of distilled alcohol in an hour. This is equivalent to about one serving of an alcoholic beverage, which is same as consuming about 12 ounces of beer or 4 ounces of wine. In the meantime, some of the glucose in the alcohol is processed into triglycerides. And alcohol consumption, in addition, makes the liver to secrete more triglycerides in to the blood stream because alcohol reduces enzymes that break down triglycerides.
High triglycerides levels causes a condition known as fatty liver. In this condition, large triglycerides deposits are formed in the liver. The condition is not potentially harmful by itself, but may point to a serious ailment. If this condition exaggerates, the liver can swell to more than thrice its normal size and may prove to be highly painful. Alcoholism is the most common cause of fatty liver. High levels of triglycerides and alcohol usage interferes with the functioning of liver in breaking down stored fats.
Some researches have suggested that consuming limited levels of red wine daily can actually help in curbing heart diseases. These results, however, are not decisive and the wine supporters suggest that it is the overall lifestyle rather than the consumption of red wine that leads to the reducing heart diseases. Also, it has been established that consuming even small amounts of red wine everyday for a week can cause triglycerides to rise to dangerously high levels. In addition to this, another recent study suggests that those who regularly drink wine have higher systolic blood pressure levels which does not help control triglycerides levels.
To keep triglycerides levels in control, visit a physician regularly to discuss the consequences. It is necessary to be frank with the physician while describing your lifestyle if you want help in ways to control level of triglycerides in your body. Your physician can help you medically by providing local references to help you realize how important it is to keep an eye on the levels of triglycerides and alcohol consumption in check.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.